Which Premier League Team Should You Support: The Ultimate Guide to Determine Your Fandom
For better or for worse, many sports fandoms are passed down between generations. If you’re a North American soccer fan, however, you probably can’t lean on history. If your grandparents, for example, didn’t know the Premier League existed, you can’t support their favorite club.
Should that scenario sound familiar, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered.
Whether you’re someone who’s new to soccer, a diehard fan who’s never had a rooting interest in the English game, or anything in-between, we’ve come up with a 100% accurate and highly scientific guide for finding your new favorite club.
If you’re an American or you like ‘Ted Lasso,’ consider Leeds United
After a difficult spell in the lower tiers of English football, Leeds returned to the Premier League for the 2020-21 season. Marcelo Bielsa masterminded that success, but midway through the 2021-22 campaign, he was sacked and replaced by American manager Jesse Marsch.
Marsch managed to keep Leeds in the division and, during the 2022 summer transfer window, brought in his own core of American players. If you’re a patriot who feels that stirring bit of pride deep in the pit of your stomach when you see the stars and stripes pop up on the lineup graphic, then this is the team for you.
Marsch’s nationality has also earned him comparisons to Ted Lasso. While the tone of those references can vary from affectionate to insulting, depending on who’s making them, the manager has been known to break out some unusual tactics, like breaking out quotes from Gandhi or Michael Jordan before a big match.
“Inspiration is a big part of this job, and when you lead people, you have to find ways to have your finger on the pulse of exactly what’s happening at any moment,” he explained, according to Sky Sports.
While that’s not quite a “Believe” sign, it’s probably as close as you’re going to get within the Premier League.
If you like Americans (but also winning) and spending money, check out Chelsea
Let’s say that you’re an American soccer fan but don’t want to suffer through the stress of a potential relegation scrap. Or maybe you just want to find a team that’s more widely televised or playing in the Champions League. If that’s the case, I’ll direct your attention to Chelsea. Christian Pulisic is on the roster, even if he hasn’t played much in recent days. It is worth noting, though, that the club recently changed managers, which could give the American winger a new lease on life.
As for the winning part, Chelsea have been going through a bit of a rough patch (hence the manager change), but, looking at the bigger picture, have found plenty of success since the early 2000s. That era of modern dominance was bankrolled by oligarch Roman Abramovich, though, so you may want to tread a bit carefully there.
Abramovich had no problem spending money, and new owner Todd Boehly has continued that trend. The Blues spent more than $310 million during the summer transfer window, plus a bit extra to bring manager Graham Potter and staff over from Brighton. While it’s fair to wonder if that trend can continue year after year, it doesn’t seem like the current ownership is inclined to tighten the purse strings.
If you’re a fan of ‘Ted Lasso’ (without the American flair) and long for your days in college, Crystal Palace could be the team for you
Earlier in this list, we drew on the Jesse March-Ted Lasso comparison. Let’s say that you’re a fan of the show but aren’t exactly drawn to an American manager. If that’s the case, or you simply want a more direct connection to the series, there’s Crystal Palace.
Palace play at Selhurst Park in South London, which has filled in for AFC Richmond’s home ground in the popular series. They also wear a similar red and blue kit, and Palace leaned into the connection by announcing one of the summer 2022 signings with a video that mirrored the show’s opening credits.
Selhurst Park also brings us to the college sports part of the description. While all soccer supporters are pretty impressive, at least by American standards, Palace’s fans are known to be some of the best around. If you combine that with a smaller ground with stands close to the pitch, you’ve got a Cameron Crazies vibe brewing.
And, on the subject of the actual football, Crystal Palace have been on the upswing. Manager Patrick Vieira (he’s French, not American, for those keeping track at home) has done a great job in the dugout. Wilfried Zaha is always a threat, and young players like Eberechi Eze and Michael Olise are exciting talents.
If you’re a front runner or a huge nerd, look no further than Manchester City
While plenty of Manchester City fans have suffered through decades of mediocrity (at best) before finding recent success, we’re not going to pull any punches: If you start following the club now, you’ll probably be seen as a front runner.
Ever since being taken over by Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi, City has reaped the financial rewards. The club assembled a star-studded squad, brought in some big-name managers, and started winning just about everything in sight. While the Champions League dream still hasn’t come to fruition, the recent iterations of the Citizens have made history as some of the best teams the Premier League has ever seen.
With that being said, though, there’s obviously an appeal to watching Manchester City. Winning is fun, and the club currently has one of the best managers in the modern game, Pep Guardiola, at the helm. If you’re the sort of fan who likes to get into the minutia, you could spend hours watching the Spainard’s squads and how they manipulate space, stretch the opposition, and otherwise make little tweaks.
If you like to gamble and ride your luck, Nottingham Forest are the team for you
Getting behind a newly promoted team is always a bit of a risk. The step-up from the Championship to the Premier League is massive, and many clubs struggle to survive their first season in the big time. Nottingham Forest, however, are taking things to another level.
After earning their place in the Premier League, Forest completely turned over their roster. Loans and expiring meant last season’s squad was a thing of the past, so the club responded by bringing in an incredibly 22 new names.
While that carries obvious upside — if Nottingham Forest can stay in the division, they’ll reap the financial rewards — there’s also plenty of risk. It’s an established football cliche that bringing in too many new players at once can disrupt a team as the group gels. If that’s the case, Forest could find themselves in a relegation fight and hoping that the plan comes together.
How lucky are you feeling?
If you like goofy show tunes and bubbles, consider West Ham United
While many clubs have a de facto anthem, West Ham United’s is certainly unique. Before kick-off, the supporters sing “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles,” which dates back to 1918, as bubbles literally fill the air around the pitch.
The lyrics don’t exactly seem like something you’d want to sing before a football match — the idea of dreams fading and dying isn’t really inspirational — but if that’s the vibe you’re looking for, check out West Ham.
Oh yeah, the Hammers play football, too. David Moyes has turned them into a solid, if uninspiring, team that fought for a top-six place last year before ultimately falling short. The club has brought in some interesting players, like Gianluca Scamacca and Lucas Paqueta, but that’s probably not enough to make them must-see TV.
If you like projects, principles, and Brazilians, look no further than Arsenal
In recent years, Arsenal have suffered through some tough campaigns. Arsene Wenger, the legendary manager who led the club for more than two decades, departed, and it took some time to steady the ship and stop the rot. Under Mikel Arteta, though, things seem to be moving in the right direction.
With that in mind, though, don’t pick Arsenal for a quick ride to the top. There’s still plenty of work to be done, and even with things are firing on all cylinders, the Gunners have a knack for making things harder than they need to be. At the same time, though, if you’re a fan who likes squad-building, projects, and watching young players develop, North London is the place to be.
Arsenal, thanks in large part to Wenger, is also a club that’s associated with certain principles. There is, at least in theory, an Arsenal way of doing things, which consists of playing attacking football, giving youth a chance, and, on the whole, striving to do things the “right” way. You can decide if that resonates with you, or if it sounds like PR nonsense.
And, lastly, Arsenal have become increasingly Brazilian in recent years. Edu Gaspar is serving as the current technical director, and the squad features the likes of Gabriel Martinelli, Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Magalhaes, and Marquinhos.
If you’re a fan of NFL ‘big guy’ touchdowns, Fulham could be worth a watch
If you’re an (American) football fan, then you’re probably well acquainted with the joy of seeing a lineman end up with the ball and rumble toward the end zone. What if I told you that you could get that experience every week watching soccer?
While it’s not exactly a perfect comparison, Aleksandar Mitrović is Fulham’s striker, and he’s a 6-foot-2, 183-pound physical presence. The Serbian isn’t going to break any land-speed records sprinting behind the defense, but he’s adept at using his size and strength to create chaos in the box. He scored an incredible 43 goals during the club’s 2021-22 promotion campaign and has gotten off to a hot start in the Premier League, netting six goals in six matches.
Watching Mitrović won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re looking for sheer physicality, he’s your man.
If you’re Portuguese, just watch Wolves
Remember how I said that Arsenal had a growing group of Brazilians? Well, things go even further in Wolverhampton.
Wolves currently have nine Portuguese players in the squad and are managed by Bruno Lage, who also comes from Portugal and previously worked at Benfica. The club has a strong working relationship with Portuguese super agent Jorge Mendes, allowing them to sign some of the country’s top talents.
To take things even further, Wolves previously had a third kit that was essentially a Portuguese national team uniform. If you’ve got ties to the Iberian nation and don’t have a rooting interest in England, just make things easy and look to Wolverhampton.
If you like moneyball and the idea of a smaller club doing things the right way, take your pick from Brentford, Brighton, and Southampton
While this might seem like painting with a broad brush, there is some range within this category, depending on how much of an underdog you’d like to root for/
- Southampton are currently the biggest underdog, as they narrowly escaped relegation last year. In the modern Premier League, the Saints are arguably the biggest producer of talent that gets sold on to bigger teams. They’ve done a good job of turning the roster over to stay in the division, but you can only play with fire so many times before getting burnt.
- Brentford sit in the middle of the three. The Bees were a newly promoted side last season but were solid enough to avoid the drop. They don’t have many household names for the neutral to latch onto, but the club seems like a safe bet to consolidate its Premier League position.
- Brighton is theoretically the best of these three clubs, but things could change with manager Graham Potter moving to Chelsea. Under his guidance, the Seagulls grew into an established style of play and were able to move up the table despite losing some key players. Will Potter’s departure change that, leaving the club to be more than happy with a 12th to 15th place finish? Or are they well-run enough to keep flying with someone else in the dugout?
If you’re a win-now fan and don’t want to go along with the crowd, seek out Spurs
In recent years, Spurs and winning haven’t exactly gone together. Right now, though, Tottenham is possibly the most “win-now” team in the Premier League.
The North London club currently has Antonio Conte at the helm, and while he’s an elite manager, he rarely stays in a job for more than a few seasons. His presence, combined with the elite attacking talent of Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min, means that Tottenham have a solid shot of getting over the hump and winning a trophy. No one knows what will happen in a few years — perhaps Conte will have left in a huff, and Kane will finally have gotten his transfer — but right now, the window is open.
And, on the subject of not going along with the crowd, remember how I said that Spurs haven’t won anything in quite a while? That means they haven’t been the trendiest pick in recent years.
If you like a brand name and being a part of the crowd, try Manchester United on for size
Know how I just said that Spurs haven’t lifted a trophy in a while, which can make them something of a less trendy pick? Well, Manchester United, for all their recent struggles, are at the opposite end of the spectrum. The club is one of the biggest names in the entire world of sports, meaning that choosing to support the Red Devils automatically gives you plenty of company.
With that being said, though, United is at somewhat of a crossroads. Ever since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, the club has been trapped in limbo, desperately needing to rebuild while being unable to commit to the painful process. The appointment of Erik ten Hag seems like a step in the right direction, but it remains to be seen if he’ll have the support and patience to fully execute his vision.
No matter what happens, though, at least you won’t be alone in supporting Manchester United.
If you like pride, pageantry, and (in theory) full-on intensity, look at Liverpool
To be clear, Liverpool have played some good football in recent years. A big part of what makes the club special, however, is the local pride and pageantry that’s on display at Anfield.
As I mentioned earlier in this list, every club has passionate supporters who live and die along with what happens on the pitch. Liverpool’s fans, however, are a key part of the show. From the banners on the Kop to the iconic renditions of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone,’ there’s just something special about a big match or a European night in Liverpool.
On the footballing side of things, the club has found success under Jurgen Klopp by playing an intense, front-footed style that pins the opposition back and almost forces the ball into the net with constant pressure. While it is worth noting that the start to the 2022-23 campaign has been a bit flat, those tactics could also be another factor that appeals to the neutral fan searching for a club.
No matter which club you settle on, though, strap in and enjoy the ride. For better or worse, there’s nothing like the Premier League.